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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting Productive

Thanksgiving and an unfortunate incident with my dog sparked a weekend of productivity at my house. Saturday night with the kids in bed Chris and I decided to get some deep cleaning and laundry done. I have been on a quest to consolidate more which requires going through old stuff and making that painful decision to either donate, throw away, or recycle if at all possible. I am so proud of the progrees we have made thus far. Although there is an attic full of baby clothes that really could be organized a little better.

Sunday we came home from church to find the dog had chewed up part of the door frame in the laundry room trying to open the gate and get out. He was already in there because he had been in the trash that morning and I feared whatever he had eaten may be coming out one end or the other. Luckily that did not happen, but the door frame was frustrating enough.
It was in that moment I decided to channel the frustration into productivity. Kaylie and I set off for Home Depot, or Lowe's as Kaylie likes to call it. Dad I think you have ruined her with Lowe's.
Anyway it was actually Home Depot. I bought some wood putty and the necessary tools to repair the door frame as best I could. I also decided to get some more paint brushes to finally paint Kaylie's room. I figured we had the paint for over a year, maybe it was time. The only project I did not get to start was touch up paint for the original paint in the house. Why is it so hard to match white? I mean I brought home 15 different color swatches for white and none were an exact match. I suppose this just mean I will have to actually repaint. What a pain!

Kaylie and I painted an accent wall in her room. It was a lovely shade of pink almost like cotton candy. Kaylie is a complete girly girl. She was so excited and happy. She kept dancing around and telling me thank you. It was the perfect match for her princess room. Her room is now painted, cleaned, and organized so that her little brother can't do too much damage if the door is left open. It was a tiring project, and at first I wasn't sure I would want to do it again. When the paint was dry and we took the tape off and it actually turned out really well. Maybe I could squeeze time in for another wall sometime.

Thanksgiving is now just two days away. We are hosting dinner this year. I'm actually excited to cook. We always like to cook a lot even if we are going somehwere so this actually makes it easier. It will be a relaxing, intimate family dinner which will be nice. Of course football will be somwhere in the mix. I will probably take that time to do dishes. I hope each one of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the many blessings that we have even in these times of economic turmoil. We really do have so much to be joyful about!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In Retrospect

Has it really been almost a month since we were preparing to leave for Seattle? That is the one thing I hate about vacations. You plan and anticipate for months and then in a flurry they are over. Just a memory left to savor. Oh how I do savor the memory. Things have felt pretty much non stop since returning home. Now that I am back to five day work weeks the kids and I have adjusted once again to a new schedule. Every other week my schedule changes from 7-4 and then back to 8-5. One thing I have not adjusted well to is the end of daylight savings time. When I get off at 5 and pick up the kids and Chris we get home and it is already almost dark. I feel like it is so much later than it is which makes the day seem gone. As I get older I really do cherish how precious time it, but I shall digress to my core thoughts.

Time really is a funny thing to be stuck in. We move along this line building and learning from our small past experiences, which really pale in comparison to the whole span of time, and projecting our lives upon goals we have set in the future. There are moments that I long to see our lives as God sees them from an eternal perspective. Of course at this point I could probably not handle or even comprehend everything I would see.

As I was thinking about all this I realized that his now been a whole year since Micah had his first surgery. It's hard to believe he was only 3 months old then. My mom was also out of commission after surgery around the same time. Things seemed so crazy then , but here we are one year later and life has gone on. Things have settled down, and issues that once seemed overwhelming just don't seem as big. It's been a good year. Nothing has been perfect, but we have been taken care of. I have a family I love deeply, a home, a job, good health, what else could anyone ask for?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love Them

I love my kids. So what if Kaylie prattles on in the car about everything including play by plays of the latest Fresh Beat Band? So what if Micah likes to stick his hands in the toilet and climb on top of the dishwasher when I am trying to load? All of these little inconveniences pale in comparison to the joy and fullness they bring to my life. The next time they are crawling and bouncing on me while I sit on the couch I will count it such a blessing that they love me enough to want to be near me, and healthy enough to be delightfully rambunctious.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oh Oatmeal

I don't hate oatmeal, really. I prefer to jazz it up with brown sugar or cinnamon, but it doesn't make me gag or anything.

I went shopping for groceries and was proud when my bill totaled $50. On a quest to save money I decided to buy a generic box of oatmeal which would last for the week. It is definitely cheaper than bagels or cereal, and it has enough healthy attributes without making me feel hungry well before lunch. At about 8 o'clock I headed to the breakroom to get my oatmeal started. I hate cooking hot cereals like this in the microwave, but I'm pretty sure a hot plate would be frowned upon so my options are slim. The oatmeal bubbled up and then settled into something that resembled mud pots from Yellowstone. The first few bites weren't bad, but it never fails that I will be interrupted and soon my oatmeal was a cold mushy mess. I ate it quickly trying not to think about the texture or temperature.

Here's the real deal. Oatmeal reminds me I am on a budget. As soon as I make a concerted effort to be frugal, I immedietely feel deprived. I know the is simply a spoiled Western mindset that I must overcome. It is much akin to going on a diet and suddenly the McDonald's sign looks shinier and more lovely than ever before.

No matter what I must purge this sense of entitlement and eat my oatmeal like a good girl. No goal worth attaining is ever an easy road, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Running Like a Gazelle

Last night Chris and I had a frank discussion about our finances. Just this week one of Chris' co-workers shared that they had become debt free just this week. She and her husband had been saving for awhile to purchase a new home while also going through the Dave Ramsey money makeover. They got to a point where they had a nice amount set aside and she decided they should use that money towards paying off the remainder of their debt. It was a sacrifice to let an immediete desire go to accomplish a larger goal, but she explained that after doing this they felt so free. It was as if they had received a pay raise as the reality set in that they did not owe anyone any longer. They were no longer a slave to the lender. I have no doubt that they will be moving into a new house in no time.

We have continued our journey towards being debt free, but it has been slower than we had hoped. I mentioned to Chris how great it would be to be out of debt by the end of next year. In my mind it was a wish, but not really a reality. Chris said he had actually been thinking the same thing. Enter the uncomfortable part of the conversation. What do we need to do to get there? We both knew deep in our hearts the answer was simply to sacrifice a little more. I would say that we live fairly meagerly compared to the average American family. We don't have cable, I don't go out shopping much, and I usually always try to find a good deal. These are issues of the heart though. I realize that often we convince ourselves that we have given everything, but we still harbor those little things that keep us feeling comfortable. I wrote earlier about wanting new floors. I also have a weakness for travel. I began to re-evaulate all that we do and tried to think about how we could do a little more to squeeze every last penny towards paying down the debt.
God has blessed us so much even during this difficult economic times. Chris and I have been so fortunate to be in stable jobs with steady income flow. Could we really squander this God given opportunity to grow spiritually and free ourselves from the bondage of debt?

I believe debt is a serious epidemic in our world. It's not really that it is impossible to get out of debt, but our minds are so programmed to fullfilling our every need instantly. No matter who you are we are all guilty of worshipping at the alter of "stuff" at one point or another. How sad is it that it is excruciating to think about a year or two of sacrifice when the outcome is freedom for a lifetime. We have set our hearts and minds to make this year count. We have a high goal of being out of debt by the end of the year. It may be a longshot, but we are going to give it everything we have. The extra money will be nice when it is all said and done, but I must reiterate that it is truly an issue of the heart. How much stuff do I need in life? How much more can I give when I am not in slavery to Wells Fargo or Bank of America. This is another issue God has dealt with me on is giving. We have also taken another leap of faith to give more to missions this year. I know it doesn't really make since with the whole tightening of the belt, but that is where the faith comes in. I'm not looking for millions or some name it and claim it scam, but my heart is to see the kingdom of God advanced through people who are laying their lives down for Him.I hope to be out there doing the same thing one day and I believe getting out of debt while giving is what will get us to that point. This just may mean I need to sacrifice more of my wants and desires, but it is an investment in God's kingdom which will never need a government bailout.

So here we go running like gazelles. We have a purpose and desire. We are partnering our economy with God's so that His Kingdom may come.

Proverbs 6:4-5

Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids;

Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hunter's hand

And like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Back in the Swing of Things

It's Tuesday and time to get back to real life. I believe vacation memories are some of the best. Sometimes I don't even realize what a great time I had until I come home and start reliving all the things we did. Trying to manage my two kids was somewhat tiresome while traveling and being on the go, but what a precious time I had with Kaylie and Micah. I think of the times we were visiting museums, eating dinner together, or just chilling in the hotel and watching TV, and I feel priveleged that we were blessed with the time and resources to do this.

Friday night Chris took me out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We had a great time talking, laughing, and just enjoying one another's company. After dinner we went to a little independent coffee shop in North Richland Hills called Roots. I really like the set up of this shop. The staff could be a bit friendlier, but I am an extra picky Starbucks veteran. The store featured a live musician. I believed her name was Kiera. She was actually awesome. It is not often you get a coffee shop musician who plays their own music, and if they do the content and quality is usually iffy. Just being in a coffee shop makes me miss the old days of making coffee. My desire to own my own ship only increases. If anyone would like to invest in an experienced barista with business and management experience give me a shout.
Now back to the date, sorry for the rabbit trail. We spent the rest of the evening walking around a park just talking about our lives and the future. It was the best date. He even took me to Einstein's for breakfast Saturday morning before picking up the kids. It was a low key anniversary, but one of the best.

The rest of the weekend was a blur. The kids went out to a fall festival and received more candy than I think should be allowed. We attended the end of the missions conference at Shady Grove where my heart was once again broken for the nations.
My heart just might be beating away from here, but that is a story for another blog at another time.

I'm back at work now trying to adjust once again. I found out our four day weeks are being canceled due to downsizing in the office. It is a little disappointing, but what can you do? I miss my kids and husband. I miss being home together or out doing something, but bills must be paid.
Big holidays are just around the corner so it may be awhile before I am really back in the swing of things.

A Happy Seven Years

This past Sunday Chris and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. I know you may be thinking that I just talked about our eighth anniversary together a couple of months ago. What can I say? We like to celebrate.

It's a little weird for me to even believe it has been seven years already. I don't feel that old. Of course I was only eighteen at the time. I could share a million things about marriage and life. The most important thing I can think of besides loving God more than you love your spouse is this. When you love, love fiercely. Work on your marriage as if your life depended on it. There is pain and joy in love. To love is to sacrifice, but what joy there is on the other side. This cannot be reached by living in a neutral status with your partner. There are moments in my marriage when I know Chris and I became so frustrated we were ready to throw the towel in, but what stood was the fierce love and loyalty, a willingness to push through because a life together was better than a life apart.

It has been an adventurous seven years and we are just getting started. I love you Chris. You are my great earthly love.